Construction worker safety has emerged as a major problem in New York City. In recent years, the rate of employee deaths on the job has increased faster than that of new construction, creating a sense of emergency and a demand for change, The New York Times reported.
The City Council recently ratified a new bill to require workers at most construction sites to go through at least 40 hours of safety training, a move that aims to walk the fine line between promoting safety and making sure barriers to employment are not excessive. As this bill progressed, the discussions and dissension around the decision highlight just how difficult training can be in the construction sector.
New York’s situation emblematic of construction training challenges
The construction industry is facing a safety problem that will take some strategic thinking to deal with. In short, employees often work across multiple jobs, with businesses taking on a combination of day laborers and short-term employees to fill out their staffs for large projects. In many cases, these temporary employees don’t have the same training that full-time, union workers have. In New York, initial efforts to increase training requirements were considered problematic because they would give unionized construction professionals a major advantage over these other groups. If businesses can’t easily provide training because of so much turnover, the responsibility ends up falling on the individual worker, something that becomes problematic from fiscal and quality control perspectives.
According to The Times, New York is addressing these issues by gradually rolling out the new requirements and including provisions for those who are participating in training but may not have reached the full requirements at a given time. But as New York City is helping to drive this change in terms of regulations, it’s up to businesses to sustain positive momentum by emphasizing safety.
A report from Occupational Health & Safety highlighted that this problem isn’t unique to New York City and pointed out that on-demand training solutions are helping firms address the issue.
Using on-demand training to make safety courses more accessible
Occupational Health & Safety reported that construction firms rarely have the opportunity to bring all workers together in one place for extended training sessions. While there are effective ways to do piecemeal in-person training, such efforts won’t easily cover the full gamut of safety best practices. Online, on-demand courses, on the other hand, allow workers to take courses at their own pace. Also, native-language safety training improves retention of information, and is particularly important when it comes to reducing risk.